Genre: Crime Fiction
Frank Miller, hero of the best-selling mystery novels written by The Man Upstairs, works the weird streets of Chapeltown as a private detective. During the legendary case of the Black Widow everything changed when Frank became aware of his fictional existence. Proclaimed at the time as a work of genius, Frank wonders if it was the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick. This latest case, involving the death of a care worker, and coinciding with the appointment of Chapeltown’s first elected mayor, has Frank baffled. The Man Upstairs appears to be losing the plot, giving the womanising Frank a steady girlfriend, Marge, who warns him that to survive he must change from the tired cliche that he has become. As the case darkens Frank recognises the depth of his creator’s sickness. His days are numbered as clearly as the pages in the books in which he features. The looming battle with the Mayor of Chapeltown is nothing less than the battle to save himself, Marge, the series – and the mind of The Man Upstairs. The Man Upstairs is plotting to kill Frank Miller and take Chapeltown to hell.”
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Man Upstairs, I have a Q & A with the author to share today.
Hi, I’m Mark L. Fowler, author of three published novels. Coffin Maker was published in 2014. The Man Upstairs followed in 2015, and Silver was published by Bloodhound Books in 2016. My latest book, Red Is The Colour, is due to be published, again by Bloodhound Books, in July 2017.
WHAT OR WHO WAS YOUR FIRST INSPIRATION TO PICK UP A PEN AND WRITE? WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR CURRENT INSPIRATION?
I’m not sure I can trace that initial inspiration to any one author. As a child, I used to love reading Enid Blyton, and the Pan Horror series. Then I discovered the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Lawrence Block, Minnette Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce and so many others. I tend to draw inspiration from all over the place, from fiction and non-fiction, TV, film and real life. Once the antennae is tuned in, I find, there is inspiration to be found everywhere.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE YOUR PARTICULAR WRITING GENRE. HAVE YOU WRITTEN OR THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING IN ANY OTHER?
I began writing short stories, and I was able to experiment with a number of my favourite genres, sometimes mixing them to create particular effects. I had a restless drive to explore what lay out on the borderlands. I write in a few genres, ones that I enjoy reading in. As I love reading crime and mystery novels, psychological thrillers, gothic fantasy/horror I tend to write mainly in those genres. Red Is The Colour is my first out and out crime novel, while Coffin Maker was gothic horror/fantasy. With The Man Upstairs and Silver I mixed genres. The Man Upstairs was an opportunity to use a hardboiled detective in a fantastic context, and it was so much fun to write. The cynical wit of the world-weary pulp-fiction hero seemed perfect for an existential crisis.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO CONDUCT YOUR WRITING? IS THERE A SET ROUTINE YOU FOLLOW?
If I possibly can I like to write most days, and I generally feel happiest when I have a project on the go. I enjoy that sense of momentum, and having something to get my teeth into. There’s nothing worse than a blank page. Having said that, a blank page can also be a challenge. I often start a new project with a What If? scenario that grabs me and gets the juices flowing.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR COVERS? WHERE DO YOU START AND HOW DO YOU COME TO THE FINAL DECISION? DO YOU HAVE A FINAL SAY?
With Silver and Red Is The Colour, Bloodhound Books designed the covers, though they consulted with me in the process. I chose the covers for Coffin Maker and The Man Upstairs, and spent quite a long time searching for just the right images. I was particularly pleased with the cover of The Man Upstairs.
ARE YOUR CHARACTERS, GOOD OR BAD, BASED ON ANYONE YOU KNOW?
There are a few instances where I have been inspired by someone I know, but I am always very careful to create my own characters and not lift them wholesale from real life. Occasionally there may be a character inspired by more than one person, and I may take a bit from here, a bit from there. Frank Miller, the hero of The Man Upstairs, was based on the hardboiled detective heroes of American Noir. You are unlikely to come across anyone quite like him, but at the same time you are bound to recognize him too.
IS THERE ONE PIECE OF WRITING YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF AND WHY?
I’m proud of all of my books. They’ve all involved a lot of hard work, but also a great deal of fun and satisfaction. Doing what I love best and telling stories. Because Coffin Maker was my first book, it will always hold a special place in my heart. A lot of people like that book and it is impossible to pigeonhole. But The Man Upstairs is special in a different way. Sometimes I feel like I could spend the rest of my life writing about Frank Miller.
AND FOR A BIT OF FUN…..
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK FROM CHILDHOOD? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK AT THE MOMENT?
I recently rediscovered Enid Blyton’s The Mystery That Never Was. I loved that book as a child. Possibly my favourite book at the moment is Pop 1280 by Jim Thompson.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY 4 AUTHORS (ALIVE OR DEAD) AT A DINNER PARTY WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and Thomas Harris. They all have such fantastic imaginations and they all know how to tell a story. I think it could be a very long dinner party, and I hope that during the evening we could all gather around a roaring fire to hear some ghost stories.
QUICK FIRE ROUND……
Favourite colour- Red is the Colour at the moment.
Favourite food- A good roast or a stir fry.
Favourite film- Casablanca.
Favourite song – Kentucky Avenue, Tom Waits.
Real ale or wine? Wine.
Beans or peas? Peas.
Sauce-Red or brown?- Red.
Kindle or paperback?- I prefer a book for non-fiction, particularly reference books, but for novels I really don’t mind.
Chocolate-Milk or Dark?- Dark.
Tea or coffee? Tea in, coffee out.
Coke or pepsi?- Don’t care.
Tapes/C.D’s/Vinyl?- CDs – I never play my vinyl these days, sadly. I keep meaning to though.
Marmite-Love it or hate it? Hate it.
Huge thanks to the author for joining me today!
About the Author:
Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction.
His first published novel, Coffin Maker, is a gothic tale set between our world and the Kingdom of Death. In the Kingdom the Coffin Maker lives a solitary existence, and every coffin he completes signals the end of a life in our world. One day he discovers that he is to be sent two apprentices, amid rumours that the devil is arriving on Earth.
Mark’s second novel, The Man Upstairs, features the hard-boiled detective, Frank Miller, who works the weird streets of Chapeltown. Having discovered that he is in fact the hero of twenty successful mystery novels, authored by The Man Upstairs, Frank has reasons to fear that this latest case might be his last.
In 2016, Silver, a dark and disturbing psychological thriller was published by Bloodhound Books. When a famous romance novelist dies in mysterious circumstances, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript, Silver. This dark and uncharacteristic work has become the Holy Grail of the publishing world, but the dead writer’s family have their reasons for refusing to allow publication.
Red Is The Colour is Mark’s latest book, a crime mystery featuring two police detectives based in Staffordshire. The case involves the grim discovery of the corpse of a schoolboy who went missing thirty years earlier. Red Is The Colour is the first in a series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills, and will be published in July 2017 by Bloodhound Books.
The author contributed a short story, Out of Retirement, to the best-selling crime and horror collection, Dark Minds. Featuring many well-known writers, all proceeds from the sales of Dark Minds go to charity.
A graduate in philosophy from Leicester University, Mark lives in Staffordshire, and is currently writing a follow up to Red Is The Colour. When he isn’t writing he enjoys time with family and friends, watching TV and films, playing guitar/piano and going for long walks.